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Meta‐analysis of randomized clinical trials of early versus delayed cholecystectomy for mild gallstone pancreatitis. BJS 2019; 106: 1442-1451.

Published: 3rd July 2019

Authors: N. Moody, A. Adiamah, F. Yanni, D. Gomez


Gallstones account for 30–50 per cent of all presentations of acute pancreatitis. While the management of acute pancreatitis is usually supportive, definitive treatment of gallstone pancreatitis is cholecystectomy. Guidelines from the British Society of Gastroenterology suggest definitive treatment on index admission or within 2 weeks of discharge, whereas joint recommendations from the International Association of Pancreatology and the American Pancreatic Association recommend definitive treatment on index admission. Evidence suggests that uptake of these guidelines is low.


Embase, MEDLINE and Cochrane databases were searched for RCTs investigating early versus delayed cholecystectomy in patients with a confirmed diagnosis of mild gallstone pancreatitis. The pooled synthesis was undertaken using a random‐effects meta‐analysis of the primary outcome of recurrent biliary complications causing hospital readmission. Secondary outcomes included intraoperative and postoperative complications, and total length of hospital stay (LOS). All analyses were performed using RevMan5 software.


Five RCTs were identified, which included 629 patients (318 in the early cholecystectomy (EC) group and 311 in the delayed cholecystectomy (DC) group). Recurrent biliary events that required readmission were reduced in patients undergoing EC compared with the number in patients having DC (odds ratio (OR) 0·17, 95 per cent c.i. 0·09 to 0·33). There was no difference in the rate of intraoperative (OR 0·58, 0·17 to 1·92) or postoperative (OR 0·78, 0·38 to 1·62) complications.


EC following mild gallstone pancreatitis does not increase the risk of intraoperative or postoperative complications, but reduces the readmission rate for recurrent biliary complications.

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